Government help too little, too late for some affected by COVID-19

Even with both the federal and Nova Scotia governments announcing new assistance for small business owners and their employees, some feel it's too late to make a difference.

Shop owner Zac Barkhouse says the federal government's commitment to cover 75 per cent of wages for small business struggling during the pandemic might be helpful to some, but it comes too late for him.

"Obviously, I think this should've come out maybe two weeks ago, because all the businesses we talked to yesterday in a big meeting, all of them laid off everybody two weeks ago," Barkhousesaid.

It's a similar feeling for shop owner Jason Selby who laid off five employees.

"In this situation where you know we're shuttered up and no longer open to the public in the interest of the public, we still have all these fixed operating expenses that still exist on a monthly basis, so that's where the help needs to be," Selby said.

Barkhouse says many small business operators are having difficult time with rent, or even getting in contact with their landlord to work out a deal.

On Friday, the Nova Scotia government announced a three-month rent-deferral program would be made available to small business operators up to $5,000 a month.

"(That) doesn't even cover one of our rents right now, and lots of these restaurants are crazy," said Barkhouse. "We have one friend and her friend owns a dance studio and she pays $40,000 in rent in one month, so that's not going to help a lot of people out."

Local small business operators are keeping in touch with each other.

"We're kind of all in it together," said Ana Gilkerson."We've all been talking and sharing our stories and figuring out different ways to keep food on the table and I think that's been very supportive and helpful for us."